taking the words of Jesus seriously

Ever Wonder What Old Testament Verses Jesus Quoted More Than Any Other?

I take Jesus’ words very seriously. Very seriously. My understanding of Scripture tells me that those red letters in the Bible are the baseline framework of the counter-cultural principles from our Savior that change and transform not only our own lives, outlook and engagement with Church, culture and politics; but also our communities, cities and countries.

Matthew 5:17 says that Jesus came to fulfill the law; and it is for this reason that he quoted the Hebrew Bible so much (as well as the fact that he was engaging leaders and people within a Jewish religious context). Throughout my years reading the Bible I always wondered if Jesus quoted any Old Testament scripture more frequently than others?

In seminary I learned that parallel passages and repeated references to the same passage (especially when referenced in both Testaments) are there to drive points home more directly. I would presume, then, that if Jesus continued to reference a particular verse/passage/theme more than any other it must be of the utmost importance for his followers to pay attention to, and seriously adapt into their own lives in order to fulfill what it means to live a Jesus-shaped existence.

With that in mind I read all of the red letters in Scripture and charted all of the Old Testament references that Jesus made. You can see the chart below…

Recorded References that Jesus made to the Old Testament:
*Parenthesis are the parallel references to that particular quote in the other books of the New Testament
*Bold are the repeated Old Testament references from Jesus
*Italic is for Isaiah 29:13 which parallels the same theme as Hosea 6:6

4:4       Deut 8:3 (Luke 4:4)
4:7       Deut 6:16 (Luke 4:12)
4:10     Duet 6:13 (Luke 4:8)
5:21     Exodus 20:13
5:27     Exodus 20:14
5:31     Deut 24:1
5:38     Exodus 21:24, Lev 24:20, Deut 19:21
5:43     Lev 19:18
9:13     Hosea 6:6
10:36   Micah 7:6
11:10   Mal 3:1 (Luke 7:27)
12:7     Hosea 6:6
13:15   Isaiah 6:9-10 (Mark 4:12) (Luke 8:10 v9)
15:4     Exodus 20:12, Deut 5:16 (Mark 7:10)
15:4     Exodus 21:17, Lev 20:9 (Mark 7:10)
15:9     Isaiah 29:13 (Mark 7:7)
18:16   Deut 19:15
19:4     Gen 1:27 (Mark 10:6)
19:5     Gen 2:24 (Mark 10:8)
19:19   Exodus 20:12-16, Deut 5:16-20 (Mark 10:19) (Luke 18:20)
21:13   Isaiah 56:7 (Mark 11:17) (Luke 19:46)
21:13   Jer 7:11 (Mark 11:17) (Luke 19:46)
21:16   Psalm 8:2
22:42   Psalm 118:22-23 (Mark 12:11) (Luke 20:17)
22:32   Exodus 3:6 (Mark 12:26) (Luke 20:37)
22:37   Deut 6:5 (v 4-5 Mark)  (Mark 12:30)
22:39:  Lev 19:18 (Mark 12:31)
22:44   Psalm 110:1 (Mark 12:36) (Luke 20:43)
23:39   Psalm 118:26 (Luke 13:35)
24:15   Daniel 9:27, 11:31, 12:11 (Mark 13:14)
24:29   Isaiah 13:10, 34:4 (Mark 13:24)
26:31   Zech 13:7 (Mark 14:27)
27:46   Psalm 22:1 (Mark 15:34)

9:48     Isaiah 66:24

4:18-19 Isaiah 61:1-2
22:37    Isaiah 53:12
23:30   Hosea 10:8

6:45     Isaiah 54:13
10:34   Psalm 82:6
13:18   Psalm 41:9
15:25   Psalm 35:19

2:27     Psalm 2:9

*Jesus references different individual parts of the Ten Commandments on four separate occasions (listed in order of Jesus referencing them):

Exodus 20:13/Deut 5:17 – You shall not commit murder (referenced twice)
Exodus 20:14/Deut 5:18 – You shall not commit adultery (referenced twice)
Exodus 20:12/Deut 5:16 – Honor your father and mother (referenced twice)
Exodus 20:15/Deut 5:19 – You shall not steal (referenced once)
Exodus 20:16/Deut 5:20 – You shall not give false testimony (referenced once)

*Jesus references Leviticus 19:18 twice:

“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself, I am the Lord.”

*But there is only one exact theme that Jesus references on three separate occasions: Hosea 6:6 twice, and its parallel, Isaiah 29:13 once:

Hosea 6:6 – “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.”

Isaiah 29:13 – “The Lord says: These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.”


I don’t see how it is any coincidence that Jesus separately quoted, more than any others recorded in all of Scripture the 1) Ten Commandments, 2) an expectation of love over judgment, and 3) a throw-down-the-gauntlet type of command to usher in a new paradigm of what it means to live an authentic, God-honoring faith.

Thus, if I was a Jesus-follower willing to bet my whole life and eternity on something, I would say that through these three not-so-subtly repeated messages of Jesus I have a pretty good idea of what overarching themes our Savior expects us to concentrate on. The question is, do his followers have enough bold faith to actually live out such principles to their fullest? And when we do, I know with everything I am that we will faithfully fulfill the Lord’s will to establish kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven as best as we possibly can.

Andrew Marin (@Andrew_Marin and www.facebook.com/Marin.Andrew) is the President and Founder of The Marin Foundation which works to build bridges between the LGBT community and the Church. Andrew is the author of the award winning book, Love is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community (InterVarsity Press, 2009),  which has won more awards than any other individual book in the long-standing history of InterVarsity Press. He and his wife, Brenda, live in the Boystown neighborhood of Chicago.

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